In the Visual Effects industry, it Is common that 3D scenes are rendered out in many layers and then merged back together in compositing programs. This technique was developed in part to give the artist greater control of their final output, but also to help speed up otherwise long iteration times if the artist were to attempt to make all their tweaks within their 3D package alone. When Notch showed up on the scene, my first thought was how these traditional 3D rendering processes could be replaced with real-time rendering – not to mention real-time color correction and post-fx.

This project was developed in hopes to develop a scene using standard 3D content creation techniques while taking advantage of the real-time rendering Notch offers.

To develop the scene, a model of an ant was rigged, skinned, and animated in Autodesk Maya and then exported as an Autodesk 2015 FBX file. Materials for the ant were prepared using Allegorithmic’s Bitmap2Material to generate normal and roughness maps. Iterations of the color texture were made in Adobe Photoshop. The ant along with its textures were then imported into Notch.

As for the scenery, the landscape was treated with a simple tileable rock color texture plus accompanying normal, displacement, and roughness maps. Conveniently, the UVs were scaled and offset within the Notch material so to achieve a level of detail consistent with that of the ant’s material. After viewing many photo references of insects and dew drops, 3D Shape nodes were placed to scale throughout the scene.

The material for the dew drops was the most difficult aspect of the project due to the need of various nodes used to output information that can be reflected in materials while also using those same nodes to apply environmental lighting. In early iterations, the dew drops looked much more like a chrome ball, then a ball of ice, and hopefully now much more like a transparent liquid. As a final touch to the scene, a particle system was created with a few simple affector nodes to give the illusion of ambient dust.

Finally, the project was treated with bokeh depth of field and various other post-fx nodes such as glow, color grading, and film grading. As for the bokeh depth of field, a custom bokeh texture was used and plenty of time spent in tweaking the values to achieve large, bright bokeh artifacts.

The video can be found at:
The project file can be accessed at:

Joshua Eason